Trade-marks: Use it as registered


It is a long established principle that, under Canadian law, a mark must be used in the form it is registered. For example, Apple couldn’t remove the “bite” out of its famous Apple logo, or for example, add an extra bite. This could result in loss of rights in the original mark. However, Canadian trade-mark law does permit some variation to occur, as long as the differences are unimportant and the dominant features of the mark are maintained. A recent decision has raised questions about what constitutes use of the mark as registered. In the Trade-Marks Opposition Board (TMOB) case Bigras v. BMO Nesbitt Burns Corporation Limited, 2010 TMOB 174, Bank of Montreal has lost its registration of the trade-mark SIGMA ACCOUNT because it published a brochure with the word SIGMA followed by the symbol ®. Elsewhere on the brochure, the words “BMO Nesbitt Burns Sigma Account ®” appeared, but the TMOB decided that consumers were misled when the symbol ® was placed immediately after SIGMA in the core of the brochure, and by a footnote stating that SIGMA is a registered trade-mark. Lessons for business?

  • Seemingly small details – such as placement of the ® symbol, footnotes, or the font size of the trade-mark - can be critical in a situation like this.
  • Brand guidelines can help ensure consistent use of your brand across the business – in marketing, advertising, social media and packaging.
  • Seek advice to ensure that your core brands are protected, and that use of the marks matches registration of the marks.

Calgary – 07:00 MDT

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